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At Pure Vegan Café, Veena Birajadar Hopes to Help Aspiring Vegans Wean off Animal Products

The breakfast burger at Pure Vegan Café contains so many oxymorons that even a jumbo shrimp might do a double take after seeing it on the menu.

Topped with vegan bacon, vegan “cheeze,” a vegan egg, and vegan chipotle mayo, the breakfast burger—offered with either a soy protein or potato-pea patty—embodies the incog-meat-o ideology of Pure Vegan Café, a Triangle-based chain with locations in Raleigh and Cary that opened its third spot last week in a Durham shopping center near Duke Hospital.

The cafe’s entirely vegan menu is anchored by plant-based burgers, “chick’n” sandwiches, and breakfast items (overnight oats with almond milk; vegan sausage, egg, and cheeze on an English muffin; waffles with strawberries and vegan whipped cream), with additional categories for veggie dogs, salad bowls, and Indian fusion items. 

When owner Veena Birajadar moved from India to the United States, one of the first things she noticed was that nearly all American restaurants are meat-centric with limited vegetarian or vegan offerings that, she says, are mostly “just lettuce.”

As a vegetarian who eats “99 percent vegan,” Birajadar struggled to find meals that fit her own diet, but she also realized that meat-eaters looking to become vegetarian or vegan didn’t have many options to ease the transition period: “There was nothing in between,” she says. 

With Pure Vegan Café’s menu of faux-meat fare, Birjadar hopes to help aspiring vegans wean off animal products while also providing tasty, healthy dishes for seasoned vegans and carnivores alike.

The cafe also features a menu of cold-pressed juices made with leafy greens, root vegetables, and fruits. Birajadar says she discovered juicing several years ago when her father-in-law was in the late stages of pancreatic cancer. She and her husband were looking for alternative medicinal practices and landed on Gerson Therapy, a treatment that claims to “activate the body’s extraordinary ability to heal itself” through a specific plant-based diet that includes drinking nearly a gallon of raw juice each day.

At that point, Birajadar had quit her job in the IT industry—“it had started to get very boring,” she says—and was spending her days gardening. After seeing the positive effect that Gerson Therapy had on her father-in-law, she decided to open Pure Vegan Café.

“That was when it clicked,” Birajadar says. “Food makes everything inside of you.”


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